More on That Free Magazine Idea - and Food for Thought...


I recently posted something in the Inner Circle Writers’ Group on Facebook to do with an idea that I had had. Here’s the original post:

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS IDEA?

A new e-magazine, monthly or bi-monthly, to do with art, culture, travel, metaphysics, writing and so on, with an emphasis on uplifting readers' spirits...

LOTS AND LOTS of submission opportunities for fiction (short stories, flash fiction, continuing tales) and poetry as well as visual art...

FULLY ILLUSTRATED IN COLOUR throughout...

COMPLETELY FREE to download, accessible to all members of this group, paid for through advertising sales...

  1. Would you be interested in reading it?

  2. Would you be interested in contributing to it?

  3. Would you advertise in it? (Your ads would reach the focused readership of the members of the ICWG, approaching 8,000 now - and the rates would be cheap, £20.00 for a full page. I'd even help you design an effective ad for your book, books, services or other business.)

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I look forward to your feedback.

Dozens of people responded, 99% of them favourably, to the notion. A free magazine full of positivity is an easy idea to garner support for, I suppose. But actually producing the magazine — like actually producing anything — runs into practicalities.

The first of these is Personnel. Clarendon House Publications is just me — I read, proofread, edit, compile, format and release dozens of books and twelve issues of a monthly magazine every year, all from my laptop in my armchair here on the edge of the Yorkshire moors. I do all this out of love, but, like anyone, I also need to pay bills — so what I do needs to earn some money. The way that this new magazine would work would be through paid advertising — there would need to be enough money coming in from that each month for me to be able to continue to produce it.

Let’s look at the finances, another practicality.

If, for example, I charged £20.00 ($US26.00) for a full page, full colour ad - which is, by the way, a remarkably cheap rate — then ideally I would need 30 people to sign up to the deal on a recurring basis. That would yield £600.00 a month, which would be enough to pay me for 50 hours of work at £12.00 an hour. £12.00 an hour is a low rate for the kind of expertise needed to put a magazine together, but I could settle for that as I would enjoy the work.

However, you see the flaw in the plan: it’s highly unlikely that 30 people will pay £20.00 a month each month, on an ongoing basis, especially to place an ad in a new magazine with an as-yet-undetermined readership. It’s more likely that two or three people will buy an ad for one month and then — misunderstanding the nature of marketing as most people do — cancel the ad having seen ‘no results’. That would then lock me into producing a monthly magazine for only £60.00, with the second month paying nothing…

One idea to try to get people to commit to longer term advertising would be to offer an even greater discount if an ad is booked in for longer — say, for example, a ‘package deal’ of 12 ads for a cut-price £180.00, which works out to £15.00 a month. On paper, that looks good: the offer might attract, say, six people to commit. That would yield £1,080.00 over a year. But you see the difficulty: that works out to be only £90.00 a month — still an unviable figure for the amount of work involved. I’d be working for only £1.80 per hour.

Love only goes so far, at least in the workaday world.

But in talking straight away about finances, we’ve missed a step: the marketing step. To get people to commit to advertising, short or long term, the magazine would have to have a strong appeal as a sales venue: they would need to be convinced, in other words, that the money they were spending was going to be worth it.

In my book Crack Your Marketing I outline a successful method of marketing for writers — a sequence of actions which will virtually guarantee them some sales of their work, provided that the work is of reasonable quality. This method involves zero expenditure on paid advertising, though it does require a little time and energy on the writer’s part. One of the key elements of the methodology is to track down exactly who the right audience is for a work, and where to find them. (This turns out to be not all that difficult, if you follow the advice in the book.) So in talking about this new magazine and acquiring paid advertising for it, let’s apply that same princ